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B is for Bloodstone

Updated: Dec 5, 2021

In our second post of our new series: A-Z Gemstones Uncovered, we will be focusing on the mysterious and mystical gemstone known as Bloodstone.

So let's start at the beginning. Or at least what we know roughly as the beginning...

Just like Amethyst, the discovery of when this gemstone came about is still unknown. However there are records of it being in Ancient Babylon, Egypt and Greece.

Bloodstone has been known and called a multitude of names, but it all began with the name Heliotrope, the Sun Stone (not to be confused with Sunstone!). Heliotrope originates from Greek helios, meaning "sun" and trepein, "to attract". Heliotrope signified "sun turning" and legends told stories of the sun turning blood red when Heliotrope was placed in the rays of the setting sun or immersed in water.

Before Bloodstone was given its modern name it was also referred to as the "stone of Babylon" coined by Albert the Great (a Catholic Saint from the Middle Ages). From the very beginning it was seen as a mystical and magical stone. During 1st Century, Pliny the Elder (A Roman author, naturalist, philosopher, etc, etc) mentioned magicians used is as a stone of invisibility. Jumping to the 4th Century, Damigeron (a lapidary author) wrote about its properties controlling the weather, virtue in divination, and preservation of health/youth.

What is Bloodstone and how is it formed?

Bloodstone is a type of opaque chalcedony, known as polycrystalline chalcedony (which is a variety of quartz). Born from igneous (volcanic) rocks when molten lava cooled millions of years ago. It is formed at shallow depths where various minerals come into play to give Bloodstone it's unique colouring. Over eons, the softer surrounding of the rock is eroded away and the Bloodstone quartz remains. If the formation was created in a stream, the rock is likely to be further broken down and deposited as pebbles on river beds downstream.

The amount of chlorite particles introduced when forming has a direct correlation to how green the stone is. And the characteristic red spots? They are formed due to the inclusion of Hematite, a form of iron oxide. Due to nature playing its part in providing different equations of Chlorite and Hematite with each formation, no two bloodstones are the same. Other mineral deposits can also be found in this stone, affecting its colour such as inclusions which appear yellow or white.

Bloodstone is sometimes split into two categories to signify its different formations. The first being Heliotrope (oh hello history lesson) which is more transparent with red inclusions and Plasma which is more opaque with little or no red inclusions.

Where is Bloodstone found?

The majority of Bloodstone is currently sourced from India, however other deposits include Australia, Brazil, Central Europe, China, Czech Republic, Russia, Madagascar, United States and most intrestingly the Isle of Rum in Scotland.

So if Bloodstone used to be referred to as Heliotrope or the "Stone of Babylon", how did it become known as Bloodstone?

According to Christian legend, when Jesus Christ was crucified, the dripping blood from his wounds stained the green jasper at his feet, hence creating the inclusions in this dark green stone.

Although this Christian legend has stuck and Bloodstone's religious connotations remain, the belief of its healing powers date back five thousand years to Mesopotamia (4th Century BC). In many cultures, Bloodstone was dipped in cold water and placed on the body to aid circulation, transfer the power of the sun to prevent injury/disease, stop blood flowing, or cure any wound. Its coagulant effect was celebrated widely, and for this reason, ancient warriors often carried Bloodstone in the form of amulets to provide protection and courage in battle and of course, as a safety net in case they were injured! Bloodstone was granted yet another name... the "Matyrs Stone".

5 fun facts about Bloodstone:

  • In addition to dipping Bloodstone into cold water to help ailments, Bloodstone was used in other ways to help deadly ailments, one used widely was ground/powered Bloodstone mixed with honey which supposedly cured tumors, draw out snake venom and stop haemorrhages. Even just looking at a Bloodstone was believed to prevent eye diseases.

  • It was believe this stone had the ability to turn the sun red and bring on lightning and thunder.

  • High quality Bloodstone is less common than it used to be. It is believed to be an outcome of Indias' (where the majority of Bloodstone on the market is sourced from) uses of it both medicinally and as an aphrodisiac. The stones mined for this purpose are crushed and used in a powdered form.

  • It is the traditional birthstone for March.

  • There are a lot of fake bloodstones on the market these days, especially with "high quality" Bloodstone being less common. To tell if the stone is real, rub the stone on porecelain. If blood red scars appear, the stone it's genuine Bloodstone.

If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest in our series: A-Z Gemstone's Uncovered.

We'd love to hear your thoughts, what's your favourite thing about Bloodstone or which gemstone would you like us to feature next! Comment below, like or share this post.

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